The April 2010 issue of British Railways Illustrated magazine has an article with lots of photographs of the Khyber Pass line taken by Gavin Morrison in the 1970s. There is a companion article about Pakistani narrow gauge in the April 2010 Railway Bylines, with basically the same text but different pictures.
The text isn’t especially detailed, being a brief description of the visit, rather than a history of the lines, but there are some very nice pictures of steam engines in action in spectacular scenery.
Sadly the Khyber Pass line is now out of action, with sections having been washed away and revival seemingly a distant prospect – unless the Chinese decide to rebuild and extend it to serve their Afghan copper mining concession at Aynak.
The 2’6″ gauge railway from Bostan to Zhob (Fort Sandeman) has closed. The track was lifted by the authorities to prevent (further) theft, although the government has announced plans to rebuild it as a 1676 mm gauge line and construct a 150 km extension to Dera Ismail Khan, cutting 400 km from the distance by rail between Quetta and Peshawar.
The politics behind “Pakistan’s gift of a steam engine to UK in 1981 and the interesting story of this loco’s arrival in Manchester” at All Things Pakistan.
The Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester has a page on the loco, Vulcan Foundry 4-4-0 works no. 3064 of 1911, while The Vulcan Foundry Newton-le-Willows “electronic museum” has information on other Vulcan Foundry survivors.
“Not something you would expect!” says wandering photographer Bob McIntosh, who took a nice photograph of the plinthed Henschel steam locomotive in Darulaman, near Kabul.
He also has a picture of a grain silo, which shows part of the defunct trolley bus route in Kabul.
A correpsondent called Ramon writes that
The engine put on display must be engine no. 19680 or 19681. These two were reported to be kept in the shed for a long time. The 3rd engine has no. 19691, it is the last one in the row outside the museum.
Potentaten als Bittsteller (PDF) is a 2001 article about Afghanistan in Der Spiegel.
There is a 1989 photo of the steam engines at Darulaman. The text says:
Amanullah holte deutsche Firmen und Ingenieure ins Land. Sie errichteten Straßen, Brücken, Staudämme und eine königliche Residenz sowie Prachtbauten in Darulaman, einem Vorort von Kabul. Dort sollte auch eine deutsche Eisenbahn fahren, als Lieblingsspielzeug des Potentaten. Die mit dem Schiff nach Bombay transportierten Lokomotiven wurden von Elefanten über enge Passstraßen durch den Hindukusch geschleppt, ein paar hundert Meter Schienenwege verlegt. Noch nach über 20 Jahren Bürgerkriegswirren und der Zerstörung Kabuls standen dort auf einem von Disteln und Dornenbüschen überwucherten Anger drei verrostete Dampfloks und das Fahrgestell eines Reisewaggons „Made in Germany“.
Whch is something vaguely approximating to:
Amanullah sought German companies and engineers into the country. They built roads, bridges, dams
and royal palace in Darulaman, a suburb of Kabul. There should also be a German rail travel, a favourite toy of potentates. The locomtives were transported by ship to Mumbai and then pulled by elephant in passes through the Hindu Kush, where a couple of hundred metres of rail were laid [not sure I’ve got that translation quite right!]. Yet after more than 20 years of civil war turmoil and the destruction of Kabul, there overgrown by thistles and thorn bushes are three rusty steam engines and the carriage labelled “Made in Germany”.
There is a description (in German) of King Amanullah’s visit to Berlin in 1928.
Die politischen Konsultationen verliefen wenig ergiebig. Der Potentat trat als Bittsteller auf. Er brauche Geld, eröffnete der junge König sogleich dem greisen Reichspräsidenten, „Geld zur Entwicklung meines Landes“. Auch wolle er Eisenbahnen bauen. Bei den Eisenbahnen mahnte Hindenburg zur Vorsicht („wenig rentable Unternehmen“), und über besondere Geldmittel verfüge er leider nicht. Aber Deutschland sei gern bereit, Afghanistan „tüchtige Leute“ zur Verfügung zu stellen.
The political consultations were low yielding. The potentate appeared as a supplicant. He needed money, the young king immediately told the aged President [Hindenberg], ‘money to develop my country.” He even wanted to build railways. Hindenburg warned to be cautious about railways (“little profitable business”), and did not have funds. But Germany was happy to provide “capable people”.
(better translations gratefully accepted!)
Burkhard Puetz was in Afghanistan in 1971. He took these photographs showing two of the 2′ 6″ gauge Henschel steam locomotives from the Kabul to Darulaman railway still in their shed, and also the remains of the carriages outside.
(Photos © Burkhard Puetz)
Simon Darvill has identified the “third” steam locomotive in Kabul.
It is Henschel 19691 of 1923. The entry for it (and for 19680-1) is “Ferrostaal for Kabul-Darulaman, Afghanistan, British India”.
Meanwhile, a blogger in Kabul called Liz went to visit the Kabul museum last month, and provides links describing the revival of the museum. There is also a big photo of the plinthed loco in the snow.
Another picture of one of the steam locos in the Darulaman museum. It was actually made by Henschel in Germany, rather than in Britain.
A photo taken by Naeemazizian on November 3 2007 showing one of the Afghan steam locos at the National Museum in Kabul. It’s good to see that it is being looked after.
Two photos of an Old loco in Afghanistan taken by Major Rob Fraser of the Oregon Army National Guard were posted on Trainorders on 6 December 2006 (thumbnails only – full pics requires a subscription). Accoring to the report,
The builders plate says: Henschel & Sohn, G.m.b.H., Cassel, 1929, 12 ATM, Kessel No. 1968.. The two locos previously in the shed have previously been reported as 19680 and 19681 of 1923, so this could be the mysterious third loco (and perhaps the last digit of the number has become illegible)?
The May 2007 Rail Passion magazine article is broadly similar to this April 2006 article from NATO: German ISAF Personnel relocate historical railway engine. I’ve borrowed ISAF’s photos of the loco being moved, and from the un-bent cab it looks to be the one in Major Fraser’s photos (above). Other reports suggest that one of the three locos is actually 2′ gauge, rather than the 2’6″ of the other two engines, so all three are unlikely to have worked on the same line (if anyone happens to be passing Darulaman and has a tape measure, it would be interesting if the gauges could be confirmed). Quite where it did work is still a bit of mystery, as until recently all reports only mentioned two locos at the museum site.
The locos can (just) be seen on this photo at Kabul guide.